Everything ‘Fitz’ for family at deCoste

Arts & Entertainment

Fans of fancy footwork and fiddling families can look forward to Everything Fitz, the family-based fiddle and dance group which will be performing at the deCoste Centre in Pictou on October 3.
Comprised of siblings Tom, Kerry and Julie Fitzgerald, parents Pam and Paddy and guitarist/lead vocalist Nate Douglas, the group has been entertaining crowds – including last year’s Lobster Carnival – for more than 10 years.
“I could say it probably started in competition,” explained Pam. “In Ontario we have a lot of fiddle and dance competitions. When they first started we would go to competitions almost every weekend and that’s kind of how it evolved.”
“You never actually plan to be a band or anything,” Tom added. “It just started at one point and evolved and eventually you realize ‘woah, we’ve been playing as a band for five years but we never sat down and said ‘let’s do this’.”
Outside of Everything Fitz, individual members played with a who’s who of traditional music, including names like Leahy, Sharon Shannon and Natalie MacMaster while collectively the group has performed across the country and throughout the United States as well.
The family’s brand of fiddle-work and dancing is largely shaped by their local Ottawa Valley style, which itself is influenced by East Coast, Irish, Scottish and French Canadian fiddling with a bit more emphasis placed on waltzes, while their dancing has built on the traditional style with a bit of American tap dancing flavour.
Musically – with the group’s fiddlers having attended Humber College – the group’s music also contains jazz influences all while retaining a traditional Celtic sound.
“We take a lot of the harmony from maybe jazz or something and the chord progressions or the idea of improvising and apply that to a Celtic fiddle tune,” Tom said. “It’ll still be a Cape Breton or Scottish fiddle tune but it just kind of has elements of other styles in there. A lot of times when we’re blending styles we’re kind of taking maybe the melody from one style and taking elements of the other style. Improvising is a big thing we like to0.”
“Dance is a big part of our show,” Pam added. “All three fiddlers are also dancers. And that’s kind of what sets our show apart from other fiddle shows – the amount and quality of dance. The kids have all competed in dance since they were little, group dancing, solo dancing. Their dance, too, is Ottawa Valley style, but it’s also been influenced by tap dance.”
When asked what keeps drawing an audience Pam offered a very simple answer, “It’s just happy music.”
“It’s very positive music,” Tom added. “Even though most things we do are instrumental there’s a very positive message in the music. I think anytime, anyplace in the world people will want that – that kind of positive feeling.”

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